Science art: Peter Hennessey

My Burnt Frost - Peter Hennessey

After spending some time in development, it’s exciting to be able to talk about the Peter Hennessey art exhibition Making it real, which is currently being shown at the UQ Art Museum.

Peter Hennessey is an artist whose passion lies in creating artwork out of abstract concepts. The exhibition reflects on the past decade of Peter’s work with some of his most significant sculptures, such as My Humvee (Inversion therapy) 2008, as well as new work from a residency at the UQ Centre for Hypersonics.

My Humvee (Inversion therapy)
My Humvee (Inversion therapy)

The HyShot Group within the UQ Centre for Hypersonics investigates hypersonic aerodynamics and has been working on producing an engine with some remarkable features. The engine, called a “Scramjet”, breathes oxygen, has no moving parts and is designed to operate at around eight times the speed of sound.

I interviewed Peter about his residency to discover why he got involved. He said that residency was about making art that does more than just illustrate the research in simple terms.

Peter said, “There is an unexpected dimension of wonder to this residency…The ideas and realities that the researchers deal with are amazing, almost unimaginable.”

Peter worked with Professor Michael Smart, Head of the HyShot Group and Professor at the University of Queensland’s School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, to gain a deeper understanding of the Group’s research.

“A lot of creative energy goes into good science,” Smart said,“and I felt that having an artist interacting with our students and academics would be a great way to communicate this beyond the walls of our laboratories and offices”.

With a history of tackling complex subjects such as the science of space exploration, Peter was in the perfect position to turn this highly technical subject into a tangible experience. The exhibition gives visitors a rare insight into the world of hypersonics research and is well worth a visit.

The full interview is coming out soon in the May edition of Australasian Science magazine! Until then, stay tuned to It must be Wednesday via Facebook and Twitter for regular science communication updates. 

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